Life is pain, your highness.”Wesley, from The Princess Bride
Thus the fairytale ends and true love saves the world.
Because love hurts. As beautiful as love is, it always hurts with the 100 percent possibility of smashing your heart.
What pain does not have to lead to is sucking your life right out of you. Oh there are days you can’t get out of bed in the morning. There are weeks (months?) when you feel like this pain will never end. There are times when you are going to need other people to help you carry your pain.
Because the pain is real.
English doesn’t really give us words to help describe pain. We have beautiful words to describe love. But a sufferer of pain cannot find the words to describe it to a doctor much less to our family and friends. We just don’t know how to describe our pain. Saying it is real just doesn’t feel like enough.
So I minimize my pain.
Or don’t talk about it.
Or hide it.
Or ignore it.
Or power over it.
Or lie to myself about it.
Or lie to my family and friends about it.
Or I numb my pain–which really complicates things because what I choose to numb with generally leads to some sort of regret which is painful so I numb yet again.
Or I pretend I am better.
Or I beat myself up for being so weak.
Or I beat myself up for allowing the vulnerability which now hurts so badly.
Or I simply beat myself up.
I feel less pain when I beat myself up.
I am better at causing pain than sitting in my own pain.
Why can’t I handle my pain like a champ? Ouch. That very question has me trying to power over my pain. Has me in that comparison/judging trap.
Because there is no hierarchy of pain. Suffering shouldn’t be ranked, because pain is not a contest. (P. 13, I Wish I Could Take Away Your Pain)
If only I had the words to explain my pain?!?!?! Maybe then I will feel at least heard.
Maybe Dumbledore can help.
“Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter & The Cursed Child, p. 258
I am breathing. I know I am breathing.
Breathing means life. Life is pain, your highness.
I can’t escape the reality that the Bible teaches that suffering is not a unique experience. It’s not a strange experience. It’s not a surprising experience. It’s not an episodic experience. It is a universal experience.
“I also affirm Christ will one day return to consummate His Kingdom (Revelation 19:7-8) and redeem all of creation (Romans 8:19-25), where He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, where death shall be no more, and where there will be no mourning, nor crying, nor pain (Revelation 21:4). But that day has not yet arrived. And until that day comes, all creation groans as in the pains of childbirth (Romans 8:22). Until that day comes, there will remain an important place in the Christian life—especially the mature Christian’s life—for things like tears, pain, and grief.David C. Wang,https://lifewayresearch.com/2020/05/19/3-keys-to-navigating-trauma-grief-and-loss-from-covid-19-in-your-church/
I suffer because I choose to love. I choose to live my life to the full. I choose to not allow the pain to define me but to grow me. I choose to not keep my world small and trust a big God anyway. I choose to let my pain draw me towards prayer not away from prayer. Towards people not away from people. Towards authenticity not towards wearing a mask.
When in a room of people, seeing someone’s pain suddenly makes that person the safest person in the room. Not that tragic person that overshares (which is a numbing behavior) or sucks up all of the drama of the room. But that person who is present in that room anyway.
I can choose to be that person. I can choose to be that vulnerable person who has pain and shows up authentically anyway. I am hard-wired to overcome.
As Dr. Brene Brown found in her research, “Courage is a collection of four skill sets that can be taught, observed, and measured. The four skill sets are:
- Rumbling with vulnerability
- Living into our values
- Braving trust
- Learning to rise (Dare to Lead, p. 11)
This doesn’t keep me stuck in my pain. This is so very Bravester. And makes my world–and your world–beautiful.
True love saves the world. The very words Jesus lived out on the cross that broke him.